The World Turned Upside Down

by Anna Gross

An act of domestic terrorism. A coup. A violent demonstration. The January 6th attack on the Capitol has been called many names in recent weeks. To me it’s like a scene straight out of a medieval movie—something very unreal. 

The only time an act like this happened in our country was during the War of 1812. There is a difference now, however: this act of violence was performed by American citizens, and incited by our very own president. Those who say this was a patriotic protest for freedom are wrong. Rather, it was a terrorist attack. It will be remembered as another event during this pandemic which brought despair and shock to the country. 

I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time in Washington D.C. and around Capitol Hill. Our National Mall is a special, even sacred place, filled with history. It is open to anyone who wants to take part in the legislative process. To see the recent violence unfold was disquieting, leaving me curious about the perspectives of leaders around the world. 

Like many of us, foreigners watched the events in D.C. with shock and dismay. Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Mass, responded, “Trump and his supporters should finally accept the decision of the American voters and stop trampling democracy.” He also said, “from inflammatory words come violent deeds.” Heiko Mass wasn’t the only leader who spoke out against President Trump. Several concluded that he stoked the flames of the fire that left a burning hole in our democracy. Na HyunPil at the Korean House for International Solidarity, a South Korean NGO advocating for human rights and democracy, agrees. “Trump is entirely responsible for this incident,” Na HyunPil stated. “After his four year rule, the Americans find it difficult to tell other countries that their country is a good model for democracy.” 

The U.S. has prided itself on having an exemplary democracy, often telling other governments what to do. Our American system of handing over power is unique, and it conveys a powerful message about democracy. Many Americans and people around the world wonder if that message is even true anymore.

I believe our future rests on nonviolence, an informed electorate, and respecting one another’s views and opinions. After the violence, French President Emmanuel Macron encouraged Americans and world citizens by saying he still believes in democracy, adding: “We will not yield to the violence of a few individuals who want to challenge that.” Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel says she is “sure that the American democracy will be much stronger than the aggressors and rioters.” All of us must be part of living up to these hopes and expectations, making our democracy stronger for generations to come!

About Anna Gross

Anna Gross is a freshman in the pre-international baccalaureate program at Richwoods High School. She is involved in tennis, choir, and the Student Leadership Team. In her free time, Anna likes to sing, dance, read, and bake. During the summer of 2020 she wrote, filmed, and directed a movie with her neighbors. She also took online dance and theater classes taught by Broadway performers. Having performed in several community theater shows over the years, she is looking forward to getting back to the stage 

when it is safe.